Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 16th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1975
Director: Salvatore Bugnatelli
Writers: Lorenzo Artale, Salvatore Bugnatelli
Cast: Giorgio Bugnatelli, Mirella Daroda, Gianni Dei, Cesare Di Vito, Karin Fiedler, Franca Gonella, Magda Konopka, Xiro Papas, Ada Pometti, Angelo Rizieri, Gabriele Tinti
DVD released: October 25th, 2011
Approximate running time: 93 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Italian
DVD Release: One 7 Movies
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95
When discussing Italian exploitation cinema from the 1970’s and early 1980’s, a few filmmakers instantly spring to mind Umberto Lenzi and Sergio Martino, both of whom worked in just about every genre possible. And while these are just a few of the more well known genre filmmakers from that era of Italian cinema. There are literally dozens of filmmakers, who’s body of work has all but been forgotten. This brings us to a filmmaker named Salvatore Bugnatelli, who’s limited filmography consist of just five films. He would make his directorial debut Sex, Demons And Death (Diabolicamente… Letizia), a truly bizarre melding of the supernatural and the Giallo genre.
Though the narrative starts off slowly, things start to pick up after the arrival of the niece character, who has some of most foreboding eyes that have ever graced the silver screen. Let’s just say that the film does not spend too much trying explain how she is able to the things that she does in this film. And while this could cripple most film narratives, the ambiguity of her supernatural powers lends itself perfectly to the story at hand.
As mentioned before this film’s blends two of the more tried and true staples of Italian cinema, mimicking elements from The Exorcist and the Giallo genre, which rose to prominent in the early 1970’s after the success of Dario Argento’s The Bird with The Crystal Plumage. Unfortunately another expecting a black gloved killer or a high body count will be sorely disappointed. In fact it is ‘The Exorcist’ factor where this films succeeds the most, since there is never a shortage of WTF moments in the film, many of which are downright creepy.
Though the cast features a few recognizable faces like Gabriele Tinti (he often appeared in many of his wife Laura Gemser’s films) in the role of the uncle and Magda Konopka (Satanik, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth) in the role of the aunt. And while they do not make that believable of a couple, there incompatibility never becomes to distracting. On the other hand, it is the performance of Franca Gonella (Revelations of a Psychiatrist on the World of Sexual Perversion) in the role of the niece character, that anchors this film. Also when discussing this film one should not undervalue this film’s eerie score which was composed by Giuliano Sorgini, who’s other notable scores include The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue and The Beast in Heat.
One 7 Movies presents Sex, Demons And Death in an anamorphic widescreen that retains this film’s original aspect ratio. This transfer was sourced from the last surviving 35mm film elements. And while the quality fluctuates throughout, the bulk of this transfer looks very good. Also while there are a handful of instances in which print damage flares up, the majority of the time print damage is minimal. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, black levels fare well and details look crisp. There are no problems with compression and edge enhancement is kept to a minimum. Another issue of note is at the 36 minute 30 second mark there is a source related issues with the transfer in which the images framing is affected, this only lasts for about ten seconds.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in Italian and removable English subtitles have been include. It should be noted that subtitles have a few grammatical errors. Background noise is minimal, dialog comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced.
Extras for this release is limited to a trailer for the film (2 minutes 30 seconds – letterboxed widescreen). Overall considering the rarity of this film, One 7 movies has done a good job with this release.